These are the adventures of Jean-Guy and Fran Nadeau aboard "GOSLING", a Camper & Nicholson 42, hull # 6 of 14, built in 1974.
Gosling was purchased in San Diego in December 2007 and sailed to Mexico in March 2008. The plan (written on the sand at low tide)is to remain in Mexican waters for a few winters and then head offshore.
Monday, March 9, 2015
Inland travelling, Mexico City and butterflies.
2100, 27 February 2015, Alongside, Marina Palmira
Note: Managed to download some of the photos but not all.. Please check again later when we are able to find an internet connection that can support the downloads. We will have lots more of photos to share.
It has been an eventful 2 weeks since we arrived here at
Marina Palmira. We have traveled inland, seen some wonderful sights and are
ready to continue cruising north into the Sea. We leave tomorrow, midday.
Our trip inland began on the 12th. The airport
here in La Paz is on the other side of town but, it is an international airport
now with daily flights to the US. We were quite impressed with our reception on
Volaris airlines. It was an easy and quick check in and we waited a few hours
for our flight to depart. The terminal is quite new and comfortable but it is
infested with cockroaches so we made sure not to place our carry-ons on the
floor. None of the Mexicans seemed to take notice as these creatures skittered
across the floor.
Because we were out of internet range for most of the time
leading up to our trip Ann, (Full and Bye), had made most of the arrangements
for the trip. She and Dick flew in from Manzanillo and we meet them a few hours
after our arrival. She did an outstanding job!! When we arrived at our hotel in
Mexico City we found ourselves in a very nice, small hotel, just a few blocks
from the Zocolo, or the huge square in front of Presidential Palace and
Basilica where preparations for a major concert for Saturday night were in high
We only had a few days in the city so the following morning
we boarded a local bus and headed for the Museum of Anthropology. What a fantastic
museum!! For the next 4-5 hours we toured this vast establishment full of
vestiges of former Mexican civilizations taken from many of the temples and
ruins that dot the southern Mexican countryside. We all looked like geeks with
those rented personal, electronic guides slung around our necks but the
instruments enhanced our tour with descriptions and history. The museum was so
big, the guide so detailed and the temperature so cold in the museum, that
after 4-5 hours we decided that we had had enough. We skipped through the last
few exhibits, missed the entire upper floor and headed back to our cosy little
hotel to warm up.
Mexico is truly a foodie’s paradise. Within a block of the
front door we had more choices that we could decide on; BBQ chicken, all the
assortment of Mexican traditional dishes, Chinese buffets ($7 per pers), pastry
shops, MacDonalds, Burger King, Starbucks, and many Mexican imitations of the
US chains. It was truly hard to decide. Another feature of this huge city is
that establishments are grouped as to their nature. There were whole streets of
ladies clothes shops, others of men’s clothiers, hardware and electronics stores
and even an entire area of musical instrument stores where Ann and Fran were
able check out the prices and styles of guitars they were looking for when they
went to Paracho.
The following day we took a taxi to the outskirts of the
city to see the pyramids at Teotihuacan. As we approached the site we were awed
by the sight of several hot air balloons flying over the ancient ruins. Dating back to the 17th century AD
this site was the centre of the largest pre-Hispanic Mexican empire. Over a
period of 600 years the city grew to a population estimated at 125,000 people
and spread its influence as far as Honduras and El Salvador before it was
abandoned in the 8th century. The main features are 2 pyramids
dedicated to the moon. Our guide was superb leading us through massive site, explaining
the history of the locale in detail. His version of how the pyramids were built
according to the movements of the celestial bodies, how the Aztecs, relatively
late comers to the area in the 15th century, discovered the site
centuries after it had been abandoned, how they marveled at the architecture
thinking it impossible for mortal men to have built such things, their renaming
of the pyramids after the Sun and Moon, etc, etc, etc, is not mentioned in any
of the tourist guides books.For anyone
visiting these wonderful historical sites we highly recommend hiring a guide
otherwise you will miss sooooo much. Dick and I climbed all of the 250 steps of
the higher of the 2 temples huffing and puffing all the way.
Temples and baloons
With our guide, Manuel
Climbing the sun
Pyramids of Egypt and Mexico share some interesting dimensions. Coincidences???
That evening, tired as we were from having traipsed all over
the pyramids, we joined the crowds heading for the Zocolo concert. We arrived
to a gathering of several hundreds of thousands of people gathered in this huge
square to see and hear one of Mexico’s most popular Banda bands, something Azul.
It wasn’t our type of music but it was fun to be part of the celebration. We
decided to return to the comfort of our hotel after an hour or so. It was a
very well disciplined crown, probably due to the massive police presence
estimated to be about 2000 members.
On our last day in Mexico city Dick and I ventured into the subway system to find the bus station we were to leave from the following day. Meanwhile the girls went to the presidential palace for a tour. Later we all took the subway and train to the outskirts of the city, to the famed Aztec floating gardens that we had heard so much about. Today they don't look anything like they did when the Aztecs were here. They are probably rolling over in their collective graves knowing that their precious waterways are being abused by thousands of small pole barges carrying paying passengers, bumping into each other for headway. Other barges carry musicians, food and drink vendors, souvenir hawkers and the like. The entire canal system is like a party gone wild. It was fun!
Playing bumper boat on the ancient Aztec waterways
Mexico City boasts a population of over 23 million people
and because of this they have developed very efficient transportation systems
to handle the daily traffic of people. The subway can get you just about
anywhere in the city for about 42 cents. Buses have similar rates and the
extensions of the subways are light rail systems with similar fares again. We
used the metro on several occasions and were impressed with the service.
Bombardier built many of the trains. A most unusual aspect of subway/metro
usage are the hawkers that board the trains and sell just about anything from
food, to pens, soap bubble tubes, colouring books, spirographs, toy airplanes,
etc. The most irritating ones were the music vendors who carried a battery
operated boom box in a backpack, belting out the music they were selling. Each
vendor had a monotone voice describing his/her product and price, they wandered
down the aisle and got off at the next stop and boarded another car to begin
their spiel all over again.
The following day we taxied to the bus station on the north-west
side of the city and bussed to our next destination, Angangueo. Situated high
in the hills a few hours west of Mexico city, Angangueo, a 17th century
silver mining town is the jumping off point for Mexico’s principle monarch
butterfly preserves. Again we had a wonderful little self-contained hotel on
the outskirts of the village. We were now close to 7000 ft and the temperature
hovered around freezing at night. There no heating in the rooms but there was a
generous pile of blankets on the beds. While we were here we met up with Ian
and Ellen who were staying at another hotel in town and also there for the
The following 2 days were dedicated to visits to the monarch
butterfly reserves close to the village. Once our transportation arrived at the
preserve we chose to take horses up to the viewing areas. That was a good
decision because at 8000+ ft it didn’t take long before we lowlanders were
winded. The two locations we were taken to were spectacular. The first day was
quite cool so there were few butterflies actually in flight but the trees were
covered with huge bunches, like grapes. The following day was warm and sunny
and there were millions flying through the forest, clinging to trees and plants
and, their dead, littering the forest floor. They arrive here in early
November, breed and, the females leave in early March migrating north. By the
time they arrive in Canada they have gone through 4 generations.
Bunches of butterflies keeping warm-ish....
Obligatory mug shot
Fresh morel soup in the making, delicious!!!
When we arrived back to the hotel that afternoon Fran joined
the kitchen staff to learn a few dishes. She wasn’t let off that easy and was
tasked to help serve what she had helped cook. Her experience as a waitress in
England was put to good use.
After our 3-day stay in Angangueo we boarded another bus for
Patscuaro, another 4 hour bus ride further west. The route wound through quaint
towns and fertile valleys and the centre of much of Mexico’s water-melon and
Patscuaro is one of Mexico’s many ‘magic towns’ which follow
strict guidelines of history, culture and architecture. It is another town
similar to Alamos where we visited a few months ago before departing Guaymas.
The drawing card in Patscuaro is the town’s market, in particular, the sights
and colours of the fresh produce. The smells of the traditional food cooking in
the stalls the sidewalk, vendors selling pottery, straw hats, wooden carvings
and furniture, locally woven fabrics, clothing and rugs were almost too much
for the senses. For our dinner that night we chose a couple of ladies cooking
chicken and veggies on the street. It was cheap and tasty but chewy; the
chicken was, surely, older hens and roosters.
Chicken feet anyone?
How about dried fish, little ones?
Hand forged tools. Check out the crow bars.
Mexican favoutite. Fresh veggies and fruit. Just add salt and hot sauce.
Purses made of plastic bags and pull tabs
We made this hat salesman's day
Our hotel (Hotel Encantada) was a lovely old 17th
century place lovingly restored over the past 15 years by an American lady.
Service was superb. Our room featured a small galley (which was rather
redundant), 2 floors, a huge bath, in-room internet router, breakfast service
and real heating….. On our second night all guests were invited to a small
party where we were offered canapés, margaritas, pozole (soup) and
entertainment from a classical Mexican guitarist, followed by a concert from a
group of 20+ guitarists.
On the last day Fran , Ann and Dick went off to Paracho on a
guitar quest. Fran and Ann had been looking fwd to this for the entire trip.
They arrived in the town renowned for its concentration of guitar artisans
after a 90 min ride through rolling countryside bordered by ancient volcanos
and lakes. What followed can only be described as a frenzied search for the
perfect (budget dependant) guitar.
The following day we were back on the bus for a 5 hour trip
back to Mexico City. On the metro though town we bade farewell to Ann and Dick
who went to the airport for their flight back to Manzanillo. Fran and I had
another night in the city but in a hotel close to the airport this time, where
we were able to chill out and rest before our trip back to La Paz. We took
advantage of the heated pool, sauna and hot tub, had an early dinner and stayed
up to watch the Saturday night bullfights (yes they still do that) and later,
part of the Academy Awards. Having been away from movies and TV for so long
none of the titles meant anything so we soon got bored and slept the night
We arrived back to Gosling in mid-afternoon and since then
we have been preparing for our departure tomorrow. The workman I had hired to
do some teak refinishing did an OK job so for the past few days I have been continuing
his efforts and correcting some gaffs but It now looks like we will be ready to
leave tomorrow as planned. The shopping and laundry have been done, the propane
and outboard fuel replenished, the engine checked, water tanks filled and the
20:00 the following night, At anchor, Puerto Ballandra.
We are back in this beautiful anchorage 18 days after having
been here with Mike and Dove. It is only 9 miles from La Paz but feels like a
world away. We departed just after noon and arrived here by 1500. We were
dismayed to see a couple of sea doos screaming around the bay and a large gin
palace entering with speakers blazing electronic music but it is dark now and
the noisy ones have gone back to the big city, leaving us in peace. It sure is
nice to be back to our relaxed way of life watching another incredible Mexican
sunset, reading, fishing, seeing how many Candy Crush levels we can go thru in
a sitting; can it get any better?